Friday, January 8, 2016

2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas

2 A.M. at The Cat's Pajamas
Marie-Helene Bertino

Plot Overview:

 On Christmas Eve Eve (December 23rd) three Philadelphia residents struggle through an average day while also trying to come to terms with their hopes dreams for life. The unique characters are the story. Madeleine is a rebellious nine-year-old, grieving the death of her mother and practicing to be a jazz a singer. Sarina is a fifth grade teacher, recently divorced and reconnecting with high school friends. Lorca owns the floundering but famous, jazz club The Cat's Pajamas. These three characters, along with their friends and neighbors in Philadelphia, demonstrate the best version of community.

Favorite Character:

Sarina Greene, the fifth grade teacher. I responded to her kindness to Madeleine--she wasn't a caricature of teacher. Recently divorced and back in her hometown, she is a bit weary but I admired her drive. Sarina sets her alarm every day to get up early and paint--but not so she can be a famous artist. She simply wants to paint. Her interaction with an old high school crush was the most poignant and heart wrenching part of the narrative.

I would also advocate for Philadelphia as a favorite character. I was interested in Philadelphia and the way Bertino features the city isn't cheesy (like how New York is always in a character in a romantic comedy).

Best Takeaway:

I read 2 A.M. in the days leading up to Christmas and finished on Christmas Eve. Reading the novel at approximately the same time/setting of the novel gave me a warm and cozy feeling. The characters are really a rag-tag bunch. I didn't really envy the lives any of them lived, but getting a glimpse of their lives and possible futures on Christmas Eve gave me hope for mine.

What I wanted more of:

Sarina Greene. It was her novel and world I was most interested in.

Also, I felt very unsettled about the time period. I think it was set in contemporary times but it was hard to tell. I don't need gratuitous iphone references, but I was constantly unsettled about what kind of Philadelphia I was supposed to be imagining.

Favorite quotes:

"His forgetfulness and her fear of good-byes have deposited them into this private moment." -p117

"This is the voice of the city. This is your tireless doubt. The rope that tethers you to the hydrant. Your half permission. Your limiting, maddening jawn. This voice comes from the Northwest pocket, the Roxborough, of your soul." -p257

Overall rating: 3 out of 5 stars

FYI: I received this book from Blogging for Books in exchange for this honest review. All opinions are my own.